Level of risk for gastrointestinal infections caused by foodborne pathogens differed by type of foodservice operation

Publication Date


Document Type


Publication Title

American Society of Nutrition Annual Conference

Conference Location

Boston, Massachusetts








Objective: Foodborne illness (FBI) is a major public health concern. FBI affects 48 million people in the United States annually, and studies suggest that it can impact nutritional status. The objective of this study was to identify risk factors associated with violations of safe food handling practices in commercial food service operations (FSOs). We hypothesized that national franchise FSOs would have the highest food safety scores.
Methods: In this cross-sectional study, the current food safety (FS) scores of FSOs in San José, CA were collected in December 2017. The FS scores represented the facilities’ overall compliance with the California Food Code. FS scores ranged from 0 (min) to 100 (max), with points deducted for each violation. FS scores were publicly available on the Santa Clara County Department of Environmental Health website. FSOs were grouped into type of business—single restaurant (SR), local chain (LC), or national franchise (NF). Kruskal-Wallis analysis was performed.
Results: Overall, the FSOs scored a mean ± SD of 87.1 ± 10.3 points (n = 2855). The median score for the national franchise group was highest, followed by the single restaurant group, then the local chain (medians of 92, 88, and 83, respectively). Food safety scores differed between type of FSO (SR vs. NF, P < 0.001; NF vs. LC, P < 0.001; SR vs. LC, P < 0.001). The highest effect size was seen between the NF group and the LC group, accounting for 7% of the difference in food safety scores.
Conclusions: Compliance with safe food handling practices differed between independently owned and chain food service operations. Food safety education and training should target local chains and independently owned, single restaurants to reduce food safety violations that can lead to foodborne illness outbreaks.

Funding Sponsor

San Jose State University


Nutrition, Food Science and Packaging